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Deciding Cases at the Supreme Court. Supreme Court. Justice Louis Brandis – “In the frank expression of conflict opinions lies the greatest promise of wisdom in governmental action.”. How Cases reach the Supreme Court.

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Presentation Transcript
supreme court
Supreme Court
  • Justice Louis Brandis – “In the frank expression of conflict opinions lies the greatest promise of wisdom in governmental action.”
how cases reach the supreme court
How Cases reach the Supreme Court
  • Session – business year of the Court is October to the following June or July
  • Typical month during session
    • 1st two weeks – oral arguments are heard
    • Two week recess – where Justices write opinions and study new cases
  • During summer break justices study applications for review, write opinions, and catch up on other legal work
how cases reach the supreme court1
How Cases reach the Supreme Court
  • Remember the Supreme Court is both trial court and an appeals court
steps in the decision making
Steps in the Decision making
  • Acceptance – those cases the Court actually hears go on the Docket or Calendar
    • A case will be accepted if 4 of the 9 justices believe a case is worthy of review
    • Of approximately 7,000 case applications, only 200 or so will be heard
    • Cases that are most likely to be heard
      • Involve important constitutional issues
      • Involve legal issues rather than political issues
      • Those that affect the entire country rather than just a few individuals
steps in the decision making1
Steps in the Decision making
  • Written Arguments – briefs – or written document that explains one side of the argument
  • Oral Arguments – each side has 30 minutes to summarize its case and justices get to question each side
steps in the decision making2
Steps in the Decision making
  • Conferences – On Fridays, Justices get together to discuss the case, the chief justice presides and 6 members must be present
    • 5 votes decide the case
steps in the decision making3
Steps in the Decision making
  • Opinion writing – a majority opinion is written which presents the views of the majority of the justices on the case.
    • The opinion states the facts of the case, announces the ruling and explains the Court’s reasoning.
    • These majority opinions set precedent for lower courts to follow.
    • Dissenting opinions may be written if a justice disagrees with the verdict.
    • Concurrent opinions may also be written if a justice AGREES with the verdict, but for different reasons
steps in the decision making4
Steps in the Decision making
  • Announcement – the Court announces its opinion and posts it on the Supreme Court’s website. It also gives copies to the Press
reasons for court decisions
Reasons for Court Decisions
  • The Law – the Constitution is an influence when making decisions as is “stare decisis” a Latin term meaning “let the decision stand” making it possible to have the law predictable yet flexible enough to change with the times
  • Social Conditions – can have influence on decision making, because the justices live in the world
reasons for the courts decisions
Reasons for the Courts Decisions
  • Legal Views – justices have different opinions on how to apply their power. Some believe in judicial activism, while others hesitate to use judicial review to promote new ideas or policies
  • Personal Beliefs – no matter how objective they try to be, their beliefs influence their opinions
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